Need to Format a Hard Drive?
Reformatting a hard drive in Windows 7 is a pretty straightforward task. We’re going to assume you want to format a secondary or external hard drive, and not the one that Windows is installed on. If you want to do that ready for a new install you need to load the Windows 7 install DVD and do it from there.
Otherwise, right click on My Computer and select Manage. This will bring up the Computer Management console, which is a pretty powerful tool for managing many aspects of your machine. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with this tool as it can come in handy sometimes. Especially Task Scheduler, Event Viewer and Disk Management.
Disk Management is the go-to place for any disk related issues, formatting, partitioning and checking drive letters. Sometimes when you add a new drive, Windows doesn’t recognize it or assign a drive letter. This is where you come to manually assign one
To reformat a drive, you open Disk Management, wait a few moments for it to collate the information and then you should see something like this. (Click any image for a larger view.)
Highlight the disk you want to format in the top half of the window and right click. You should see Format in the menu. Select this, acknowledge the warning about losing data and select the file type you want. If you’re using XP or above, I suggest using NTFS as it’s more flexible and uses space more efficiently than FAT or FAT32.